why I don’t trust your privacy policy

2 February 2008, 8:12 am

First there was Flickr. I liked Flickr a lot; it was a very convenient way to share photos with my friends and family. I didn’t know anybody on the Flickr team personally or anything, but it was clearly a small, bright outfit. The vibe of the site made me feel comfortable letting them keep track of my photos and have access to one of my email addresses and as much personal identifying information as they required (which wasn’t a lot). I was more innocent about Web 2.0 back then.

Then Yahoo! bought Flickr. I’ve long mistrusted Yahoo!; they have a history of actions like automatically opting customers in to marketing mailings. They also require that customers give up more information than Flickr did. In recent years they seem to have cleaned up their act a little bit, and my distaste for Yahoo! was also (irrationally) somewhat mollified by the Yahoo! User Interface (YUI) Library, which is some pretty impressive (and useful) work. I still view Yahoo! with considerable wariness, but the Flickr service was valuable enough to me for me to (grudgingly) surrender my relationship with Flickr to Yahoo!. It wasn’t — quite — a deal-breaker.

Now it looks as if Microsoft is going to buy Yahoo!, and my distrust of Microsoft is on another order of magnitude entirely. It’s also more multi-threaded: I expect Microsoft to do wrong things with my privacy and security on purpose, accidentally because of their continued reliance on insecure software architectures, and also because they’re malicious-hacker-target prime (which admittedly is not entirely their fault). I also expect them to eventually foul up Flickr’s awesome webapp (and YUI, damnit) with proprietary code for their browser product. Microsoft’s acquisition of Yahoo! is a deal-breaker for my continued use of Flickr. I’ll eventually have to find another comparable photo sharing service (any recommendations?), roll my own, or, more likely, do without.

I’m far from over my disgust that the SEC didn’t expect the Adobe/MacroMedia merger to be unacceptably bad for the health of the US rich-media software industry in general, and have little faith that they’ll block this action. Feh.

Anyway, I don’t trust your startup, even if you’re not notably throwing off signs that you’re built-to-flip. Nothing personal.

Comments are closed.